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Right now we have just 8 posts.

That's not terrible, but they are in various states, various formats, and one of them is even closed. I think it would be great to clean up these posts, decide on a format and figure out a process for bringing in new FAQ questions (and apply the tag now to the best ones we have here on Meta).

Motivations

  1. Provide a great place for new users to start learning about the best ways to use this site.
  2. Provide links for experienced users to use in comments on questions or answers that need attention.
  3. Take a big step in fixing this site!

I have three main proposals and a couple questions.

1. Make the FAQ tagged questions more FAQ-y

In my understanding, the tag should be used for the most frequently asked and answered questions on Meta. (That's what the tag wiki says, at least.)

  1. I propose we review which questions are tagged faq, and fix any that are out of place (such as those about the site-faq which I propose as the replacement tag).

  2. I believe that these questions should be in Question and Answer form, so that users can see quickly that it's a question they actually have.

Right now, these are the questions we have in the tag:

2. A FAQ index

The FAQ for Stack Exchange Sites at Meta.SO is great. Would be cool to see one like that here.

3. Figure out a process for bringing in new FAQ posts

Specifically, where do we propose a good posts, discuss its merits, or decide on the "right" answer?

My first nomination is "Real Questions have Answers". This is the post announcing the addition of the section to the FAQ page, but I think it would be great to have a "Are polls ok?" question with a bit longer answer (community wiki) comprising the best writing on this topic.

Ideally this answer would also talk about how we should avoid "you/your" in questions, so we can use it in comments on questions like this one — the question that got me thinking about all of this in the first place.

For this process, maybe we could use the tag I created for this question (no others fit).

Questions

  1. Is the Q&A format (a la Meta.SO) correct for this site? I believe it is, but I'm open to opposing viewpoints.

  2. If we do go with Q&A format for FAQ questions, how do we arrive at the right answer but still allow voting, discussion (comments), and editing?

    The Skeptics site is working on solution for this that involves turning the original into a discussion/staging area and posting a new question with the best/correct answer. However, I'm not a big fan of this. I posted an answer that became the "official" one but all that served to do was branch the conversation.

  3. How do we push the right answer to the top on FAQ questions? Votes? Accept it?

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Edit: Over the past couple of weeks, we've been accumulating several FAQ-worthy questions that provide a good amount of detail beyond what the one-page FAQ, so I've taken the extra couple of steps to consolidate and adjust the questions to be more FAQ-like. We now have a FAQ Index which links to several questions on meta and elsewhere.


I don't think there's a tremendous amount of value in spending a whole lot of time on this.

On Meta Stack Overflow, they get a ton of questions about all the sites about every possible mechanic. They get dozens upon dozens of questions about the same things, and as such, require canonical posts to point to for the purposes of duplicates.

Additionally, the amount of questions they get about various aspects of the site require extensive detail that can't be fit into a single page FAQ. For example, there's a FAQ post that goes into the excruciating minutiae of how comment replies work.

In short, Meta Stack Overflow has what Jeff Atwood terms "big city problems". The tag is the only reasonable way to handle the onslaught of support questions they get about the engine and global policies.

We don't really have that problem. We get ~2-3 questions every couple of days, and for the most part, cover new issues that do need a discussion or a real answer (i.e. they can't be closed as a duplicate). Even the ones that cover the same ground as earlier questions, we (usually) can answer the question in a way that makes it specific to the person asking it.

So we've been using to tag questions to the few questions frequently arise organically:

  • how is Programmers.SE different from Stack Overflow,
  • changes to the main FAQ sparked by frequent on-topic discussions,
  • the consequences of the Great Redisciplining,
  • and so on.

The main intent of these questions is to explain the background behind the policies Programmers.SE has, not to explain in detail the different mechanics behind those policies (like Meta Stack Overflow).

And for the stuff everyone needs to know—the stuff we want to refer to when closing questions or discussing policy—we use our single-page FAQ. If anything should get some love, it's that.

But, if you see something that really explains the problems with an issue that frequently comes up, by all means flag it. Beyond that, the normal Stack Exchange guidelines apply:

  • If you have a better answer to a question, answer it.
  • If you like an answer, up-vote it.
  • If you don't like an answer, down-vote it and leave a comment explaining why.
  • I hope this doesn't hurt anyone's feelings, but the actual faq is a mess. I think that's more to do with the technology than anything, from what I know about it, but even as an experienced user I don't get a lot from looking at it. BTW - we have a great Q&A engine here. Perfect for F A Q. – Nicole May 17 '11 at 5:08
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    @Renesis organizing the actual FAQ is something that would be of more use than rebuilding the meta-discussion site as a FAQ repository. People access the FAQ page far, far more often than they visit this site. – user8 May 17 '11 at 5:13
  • I'm not asking for any type of repurposing of meta. 1) We have a FAQ tag here. 2) Meta allows for longer answers than the site FAQ. 3) We need good links to point people to on Q&A on the main site. Sounds like the perfect combination to me. – Nicole May 17 '11 at 5:30
  • @Renesis I didn't say repurpose. What you're proposing is a ton of work. I'm saying there's not a lot of value in doing that work. I'd rather we make the single page FAQ better as that's what people are going to read, not all the posts on meta. – user8 May 17 '11 at 5:34
  • @Mark I'm all for that, too. There's just something about it that makes it seem very unreadable. – Nicole May 17 '11 at 5:37
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    @renesis we are looking at the /faq now, feel free to submit any ideas for redesigning it. You should look at the Markdown help for our current direction. programmers.stackexchange.com/editing-help – Jeff Atwood May 17 '11 at 11:20
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We appreciate the time you took in writing that up.

The best way to get things more appropriately tagged is liberal use of the moderator flag. Just a quick "I think this has FAQ potential" would be fine.

I will try to go through currently FAQ tagged questions with fellow moderators tomorrow.

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